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Safety fears over traffic on school route

Worried parents have voiced their concerns about the behaviour of drivers surrounding the building site at the old gasworks  on Welshmill Lane.

It has become an issue of concern among local mothers that lorries are making deliveries to the site while children are walking to school in the morning. Combined with vehicles parked on the pavement and heavy traffic, this is making a primary route to two of the town’s schools a dangerous place to be.

Local mum Rebekah Arthurs walks the route daily with her six year-old daughter.

Rebekah said, “I have seen huge lorries reversing and offloading pallets, and vans and cars parked on the pavements. People in wheelchairs have been forced to dismount the pavement into the road, along with people pushing buggies and parents with children. A number of scooters have had near misses too.

“Despite complaints from me and numerous other frustrated and highly concerned parents, we have had no reassurance from the contractors or Somerset Highways.

“I don’t want to cause upset or make enemies, but I’m concerned about the  safety of pupils from the two primary schools, and older children from Oakfield and Selwood who use this route to and from school.

“The invasion of wheelchair space is concerning too, considering Rosetti Residential House is just yards away. This situation has been going on for months now and is causing dangerous tailbacks, with some vehicles having no option but to reverse back through the bridge.

“I don’t understand why vehicles can’t be kept on the site or in a nearby car park. There are no barriers or yellow lines so the road is already unsafe considering there are two primary schools nearby; these vehicles are adding to the danger.”

The building site is on the site of the old Frome Gasworks on Welshmill Road. As well as the residential home, it is in close proximity to St Louis Catholic Primary School and Vallis First School.

Videos recorded by Rebekah have shown that during traffic jams, parents and children have had to squeeze between the wall and vans parked on the pavement to avoid walking in the road.

There was also footage of pavements on both sides of the road being blocked simultaneously by cars, vans, and heavy goods vehicles. Cars could be seen having to wait while lorries reversed up the narrow road and into the building site.

The videos showed schoolchildren walking around and behind reversing lorries, and along the road where there was no pavement space available.

Nobles Construction is the company in charge of the site. Project manager Matthew Mustoe said, “Nobles Construction have been operating for over 20 years and specialise in regeneration projects which are often in town centre locations that due to their previous usage are always notoriously difficult to service.

“To this end we are well versed in the necessity to maintain pedestrian access at all times and in order to do this we restrict delivery times to outside peak foot fall times i.e. school opening and closing hours, we specify non-articulated vehicles to enable delivery waggons to physically enter the site to be unloaded therefore minimising disruption to our neighbours.

“We are also a member of the considerate constructers scheme and take our obligations very seriously, carrying out bi-weekly consultations with local residents and anyone who we feel our construction operations could possibly impact on. We have been operating directly adjacent to a care home for the duration of the project and have not received any negative feedback/complaints.

“A lot of the parking problems are a result of our contractors arriving very early and taking limited available parking spaces along Welsh Mill Lane. People arriving later on in the day to visit relatives in the care home and dropping children off to school then have to park further up the road. At this point the carriage width narrows which causes people to park on the foot paths.

“To minimise disruption going forward we have worked with the local constabulary to the point where we encouraged ticket enforcement to anyone who was parking directly on the footpaths outside our development.”

A spokesperson for Mendip District Council said, “Mendip District Council is looking into the concerns raised by local residents and will try to resolve the situation by highlighting these hazards to the developer.”